Jamie Lewton practices a weld.Marissa Cantu

For Jamie Lewton, 31, of Texas City, a newspaper article changed everything.

As a former administrative assistant, she saw an article on Keith Harrington, a student graduating with a welding certificate from College of the Mainland, and saw new possibilities.
“I knew I wanted to come to school,” said Lewton. “I wanted to work with my hands.”
It enticed her to try welding, and she now is in class five days a week, determined to learn skills that could earn her of $17.93 per hour according to Workforce Solutions to support herself and her four-year-old daughter.
“It’s exciting I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Lewton. “I like working with my hands. It feels better to see an outcome, to say, ‘I did that.’”
She is one of a growing number of women in the College of the Mainland Welding Program.
“We have never seen so many women in the program,” said Doc Miller, who has taught welding for 32 years.
The increase mirrors industry’s growing demand for female welders.
“Employers like hiring women. They show up, do the job,” said Miller. “When a woman is hired, she earns the same salary as a man.”
Lewton finds support in classmates, male and female.
“We just kind of stick together. We get along. Everyone’s here to help,” said Lewton. “It’s a support system. You’re all learning.”
Her classmate, Marissa Cantu, agrees.
“Everyone is welcoming, and you’re there to weld.”
Lewton has applied for financial aid with Worksource Solutions, which next semester will cover 70 percent of school. Federal aid will cover the rest.
“There’s a high demand for welding,” said Lewton. “The possibilities are exciting.”
For more information on the COM Welding Program, visit www.com.edu/welding or call 409-933-8536.